tv Beyond the Headlines KOFY June 10, 2014 9:00pm-9:31pm PDT
. welcome to "beyond the headlines." i'm cheryl jennings. today our show talks about body image. it's the way we perceive ourselves and how we look. our families, our friends, social pressure and the mass media are st some of the contributing factors. it's important to note that our by image affects self-esteem and ultimately our mental health. last year several people from the organization about face took off most of their clothes in front of ctoria's secret in san francisco. the group feels the chain portrays a body image that's unrealistic. protesters say not everybody can be a size 1 with great curves. >> not everybody needs to be like that in order to be
attractive, in order to be awesome in general. and we really wanted to speak out just against that whole piece of it and all the people here really like the way that they look. >> well, about face wants people to feelood about their bodies, no matter what they look like. joining us in the studio right now is jennifer berger, she led the protest. she is the executive director of about face. jennifer, thank you r being here. we spoke several yea ago and i'm really happy that you're still doing this work. thank you. i'm glad everyone has seene without most of my clothes now at this point as well. that's great. >> and you look great, by the way. so about face works with girls and young women to help analyze media msages. so tell me how you got your start with this. >> the way i got my start is when i was in college at the iversity of michigan i essentially watched an amazing video by jean killborn called "killing us softly" that really changed the way that i thought about all of this. i had lots of friends who had eating disorders and body image problems in high schol and all
the pieces just came together for me really. so i started working with about face a couple of years later and i just never have stopped. >> that organization has the same mission that you had. it was on a nice little parallel track for you. yes, all-around media messages. so giving girls, especially girls the tools they need to really understand media mess annuals that affect their self-esteem and body image so that they an prevent that for themselves and lead healthier lives and be happier people. >> so what are some of the ways that you've seen in your experience that the media messages affect the way we loo at ourselves. >> well, there's so my different ways. the most obvious way is a girl or woman looks at an image, you know, these victoria secret images -- >> the magazines too. >> it's magazes, things on facebook thatirls post of themselves even,nd they just think i need to look like that in order for people to find me attractive andind me likeable. >> and so we were talking about how this affects your self-esteem and your mental health.
so this can cause all kinds problems too. >> oh, yeah. it can cause self-esteem problems for sure that run very deep, even down into issues like i'm not going to go for that job, i'm not going to go for that opportunity in my academic career because i don't feel good about the way that i look. and it can of course then affect the physical also with dieting being very danrous, eating disordes, eating disorders are a physical illness as well as a mental illness. >> so now your organization has a very comprehensive approach to this. describe some of th ways that you work with this. >> absolute. so what we found is that the main reason that girls and women -- the main way they get their body image, they find out whether they are beautiful or not in our culture is tough the media, is through culture. so what we do is we are really giving them tools to critique and learn about what they're seei in media so that they can kd of prevent it from really absorbing into themselves and
causing these types of problems. >> so is it online and is there a place they can go to take classes, fr example? >> well, what we have we do media literacy workshops and curriculums well as parent education sessions at schools in the bay area. all over the bay area. and then we also have a website that has lots of information, lots of grt information that can almost stand in for a workshop. it's at aboutface.org. >> and what are some of the ways that we as women and men can promote healthy body image. >> well, especially for ourselves, we certainly can think about the things that our bodies can do and think about the other great characteristics that we have that are not related to attractiveness or really to appearance. and for girls, especially, but also for boys, you know, parents are girls and boys really need to talk about how great it is that your body can help you run, how great it is that your brain can help you think and all these
different things as oposed to focusing on the outward appearance. >> i know you're a big advocate of yoga helping too? >> yes. yoga is an up and coming way of helping people with eating disorders and body image problems who aren't really finding that talk therapy is working great for them or in conjunction with talk therapy. so it really brings a person into her body and helps her feel her body from the inside out and really appreciate all the things that it c do and how it feels. >> all right, jennifer, thank you so much. keep up the great work. >> absolutely. thank you so much. >> and we do have to take a little bit of a break right now but stay with us because in a moment we're going to hear from a local author who took a pledge to avoid looking in a mirror for a year. and in doingso, she gained self confidence d a new outlook on herself. stay with us, we'll be right back.
welcome back to "beyondhe headlines," i'm cheryl jennings. we're talking about body image and the damaging effects possibly that mass media might have on self-esteem and self confidence. joining us in the studio is kirsten grives. she is a doctoral candidate in the department of sociology at ucla and the author of"mirror mirror off the ll, how i learned to love body by not looking at it for a year." now, i can't imagine th because of the nature of the work that i do. so i'm looking at the headline and thinking i couldn't do that.
so youpent a long time working on this book. >> i did. >> tell me what the motivation was. >> well, as a sociology graduate student, my research focus is on body image and women'sissues. so i surprised myself that when i was engaged to be married i kind of got caughtup in all of that bridal hoopla about looking beautiful that one day and i felt so frustrated with myself about my own body image issues that i decided to needed something big to push back on that bigedia telling me i needed to look perfect. >> first tell me about th uncomfortableness you had with your body image. >> well, when i was in high school and college, i had anorexia. i recovered from it, butart of recovery is staying really in tune with how you're feeling. and when you're triggered by something, you need to find a way to get back to a safer space. so for me when i was looking in the mirror trying on wedding dresses and thinking maybe i should lose five pounds, this would look much better, i reized that losing five pounds
was a d idea and i thought go ig or go home. let's try a nuts project and i'll just give up mirrors and see if that would help me focus on things outside of my body. >> well, that's pretty drastic. how did you function? how did you do your hair? >> well, it took an adjustment of my lifestyle. i was very engaged in fashion. in fact i worked in fashion before i went back to school and so i reallyad to commit myself to shifting my attention away from that. so i did continue to wear clothes i love, i continuedo wear makeup, just less, and very sheer pructs that i could smear on. >> without looking at yourself. >> exactly. and i alsohad to be open to allowing the people in my life to say, hey, you've got something in your teeth. >> okay, absolutely. so we talked about the effects that mass media has in some ways. itcan be good, it can be bad. for you how was that? >> for me it was always a mixed bag. on the one hand as a sociologist i know that we are a species that loves to decorate
ourselves. we use clothing and makeup and hair styling to communicate who we are and the group that we want to be a part of. that said, the media today has really gone above and beyond what our primal ancestors would have expected and so we need to find ways to manage it and put it in perspective. >> what is some of e advice that you have for women? >> for women and young women, i think that if you're going to subscribe to some of those beauty magazines, subscribe to "national geographic" too. >> now, you had to overcome anorexia and all of these other issues. >> mm-hmm. >> when you got done with your project, how did that change you? >> well, i feel like i'm being sappy, but the project was a huge step for meon a personal level. i gained a lot of confidence i hadn't had in the past just knowing tat i had tested some of the doubts i had about how my life would chge if i was less obsessed with appearance and after i challenged those thoughts, it turned out
everything was fine. and so i have that memy to look back on whenever i have doubts again. >> and then how about changing your perspective and improving your li in other ways as opposed tohaving it focus on you? >> i think that's actually the key to healy body image. a lot of us think having a healthy body image is looking in the mirror and thinking i look like a ten of ten. my experience and research shows that a better bod image is being able to say maybe i'm having a bad hair day, but that's just a tiny part of who i am and there's all these other things about me that i'm excited about. >> it's really tough when you go shopping. i've noticed that clothing changes sizes even though i haven' all of a sudden i'm wearing smaller sizes and i know i'm not that small. >> it's really interesting. some of my research looked at the concept called vanity sizing. while men's sizing is typically by measurement, women's sizes are a little bit more arbitrary. anour clothing manufacturers know that we're sensitive about our bodies and they're playing
into it. and some of us love the idea of walking into a store and finding out that, oh, my goodness, i'm suddenly a size smaller. but at the end of the day i really think we owe it to ourselves to know our bodies and appreciate them and a label is just a label, it's not who we are. >> we have about 20 seconds left. what isour advice for people to go big? and go home? >> well, i think going big and going home means when you're at home, y need to be spending time with people who love you and i'll use a mirror pun here. they should reflect back to you the best things about yourself, and that's the secret. >> i love that, that is great advice. such a pleasure to meet you. >> you as well. thank you for having me. ave to take another break. when we come back, we're going to meet aay area woman who created a community forum for asian-american women to talk
published in 2010, media image contribute to both positive and negative social stereotypes. racial differences in appearance and conversational style have significantly diminished. however, the representation of minorities on primetime has not changed over time asian-americans are a growing minority group but are only found in 2% of the studysample. joining us right now in the studio is lisa lee, the co-founder of thick dumpling skin. i love that name. it's a community forum for asian-americans to talk about experiences with body images. how did you come up with this name? >> my co-founder, lnn chen, is a very scessful food blogger. one of the things tat anybody who has founded any sort of ventures before will realize that coming up with aame and getting that adress is the hardest part so she came up with a list of names that had to do
with food andhick dumpling skin when it popped up, we just felt that it was the right thing. dumplings are something that's asian-american an it's also about what's on the inside that counts. so when i read it, i was like we have to go with this one, it works. >> i'm thinking body texture, you know. but okay, i love it. that's perfect. so tell me about the motive for doing all this, because obviously there was a need inside you and your friend. >> the interesting thing is that it stted with me writing an article in a magazine, an asian-american publication that i was a part f. in sharing my own story you know, having gone through this personal journey of perfection and what that is, i shared the story, but did not realize at all that it would resona with so many people. and lynn, you know, was one of those people and she reached o and she told me that she herself had eating disorders forany
years. >> had you known her ahead of this? >> actually i was aery big fan of hers. i was a fan of her work. so when she reached out to me, i was kind of shocked for a couple of days. i w like is this the lynn chen? and then we started talking and really just bonded over what it's like to be asian-american and having that pressure of,ou know, having that perfect body, whatever that is. >> well, can you describe some of those struggles? >> yeah, definitely. i think for the websit for us the story that we really want to tell is that of course i think all women and a lot of men struggle with body image, regardless of race, ethnicity, but i think it's very interesting to look at it from the lens of the cultural standpoint as well because i think for many asian-americans, particularly the ones that have immigrant families, et etera, this idea of being too big is
something that is such a huge preure. >> it's like the stereotype? >> it is a stereotype. >> what is the stair oe >> it is a stereotype. >> what is the stair reostereot? >> i think the stereotype that is ot there in the mass media and is actually very internalized amongst our own cultures is that asian-american women are just born naturally skinny. that we apparently have a skinny gene. we are petite and this is how we are supposed to look. and it's very damaging for people who don't fit, you ow, within that mold because they start to really question themselves about whether or not they are really a part of this community and whether or not they are, quote unquote, asian enough. so, you know, and i think self confidence, self-esteem, everything just kind of rolls from that. >> well, you're a big resource, so how -- what's your advice for women and for men? >> well, i ink as we see more and more of these stors, lynn
and i always come back to this idea of how do we get people to think abt, first of all, mental health, because i think image issues and eating disorders is really a manifestation of your mental state. so how do we kind of promote wellness and, you know, it's not about just accepting yourself unconditionally because there are many flaws about ourselves th we would love to change, right? so how do we do that in a constructive and positive way. so i think that's number one. and number two, i think just educating people and raising awareness around how stereotypes play into the way tha we see ourselves. hopefully we can give people the tools to really understa and digest and consume all of that. >> and you have a great website too. thank you so much for being here d thank you for the work you're doing. >> thank you. >> it's really important. all right, we do have to take another break, but when we come back, we're going to learn about
welcome back to "beyond the headlines." i'm cheryl jennings. toy we're talking about body image. according to the national institute of mental health, one in five women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating. and according to the ternational journal of eating disorders, only one in ten men and women with eating disorders actuallyreceived treatment. here in the studio with us right now is rebecca cooper. she has written a book called "diets don't work she's also founded rebecca's house, eating disorders and treatmentprogram. and i have to say i agree, diets don't work. absolutely. absolutely. >> so tell me how you came up
with the idea for the book. i think that you probably had an eatingisorder yourself? >> yes. after years of recovery, i actually started workingith people who had problems with -- at first i was more like yo-yo dieting and i realized that the devastation that's caused by the failed die wias having a big imct on people's self-esteem, along with setting them up to get into disordered eating. i found out too that dieting actually changes the brain chemist and some people progress into eating disorders. >> when did you recognize this in yourself? >> in myself, not until i had years of recovery, years of recovery did i start -- in fact a lot of this information is new. we didn't even know about how the brain was involved in the eating disorder. >> so tell me a little bit more about that. so we're talking diet, nutrition and exercise affecting the brain and your body. >> yes. if you think about especially body image, i mean that's the way we look at ourself. and if we think that we have to
be something other than what we are, we star doing things like extreme exercise or dieting, and some people will progress until they're dieting and they just give up because they keep failing. >> exactly. >> or they go the other way and they keep dieting to the point of thinking theye going to be happy at a certain weight and they're not. because you still feel the same way inside if you haven't dealt with the reasons why you have the eating disorder in the first place. >> so you founded rebecca's house. tell me about that. >> yes. rebecca's house is a clinic. have three houses for eating disorders and co-occurring disorders. we have people from all over the world who come to us. we have different levels of care. so our jective is to get people at first it needs to be pretty structured, butefore they leave, we want them to have like a temporary job or a volunteer pition or take a class at a local university.
our goal is to help them to internalize the controls around the eating, instead of us forcing or somebody else fcing or making themo something externally. >> well, what are some of those little -- give me a little free therapy here. what are some of the steps to recovery? >> well, first of all is to recognize that there i a problem. and that's the hardest. that's the ardest, recognize and then, you know, get help. but getting back in touch with your real authentic true self and appetite. that's how you know if you're hungry or if you're full. >> and you shouldn't just eat when you're not hungry? >> no. >> exactly. >> a lot of peop do. a lot of people do, but some people progress to the point to where it takes over their life. so some of the things that people learn to do is, fst of all, what are the triggers. i need to get through those. it could be trauma, something ike that. and also to start eating healthy
so that the ain can start healing itself and the body so you can starthinking correctly again. so healthy eating is definitely a part, healthy exercise, not extreme exercise. >> it's better to do this, though, with a doctor's guidance, right? >> you know, cheryl, it takes a team. you really need a team. that's one othe reasons we are having some god success at rebecca's house because we have on staff, you ow, registered dietitians, therapists, medical doctors, psychiatrists, and we do all kinds of different therapies in groups and emdr, which is for trauma. >> what are some of the triggers for people? >> you know, some people actually have a food addiction and don't realize it. yes. and this is, again, this is new research that's coming out, that there are some foods that actually affect the rewards system in the brain much like alcohol and drugs. and the people who are
predisposed genetically to this, they can be triggeed by something in their envirment or trauma or just dieting to where they go into th cycle of like they have to have it. they ha one cookie and -- >> they have to eat the whe bag? >> yes. >>e have about 20 seconds left. so how can parents help their children get through this? >> first of all, model healthy eating yourself. and also talk about yourlf in a way that's positive. you know, when you see other people, don't make remarks about them being overweight or they hould lose weight. don't ask your child to be perfect in everything. and if they say that i'm fat, go beyond that. ask them has something happened or what's -- what are you feeling, what else is going on. >> all right, rebecca we have so much good advice from you today and we'l find it online. thank you for being here, really
and why with our partner in brazil, we are producing a biofuel made from renewable sugarcane to fuel cars. let's broaden the world's energy mix, let's go. ♪ >> i'm cheryl jennings. today's show is focused on a part of life that every person goes through in their life and that is puberty. we're going to talk about girls and boys going through puberty as well as transgender kids. what happens to the body as it changes? what about all those emotions? and how do you talk to kids about the subject? but one of the things we have learned in our research is that a number of girls are entering puberty a lot earlier these days, some as young as 7 years old. there is a long-term government-funded study under way right now about e